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Is there anything more embarrassing than getting turned away from the latest cool club? Well, yes – probably – but if you want to avoid the late-night walk of shame, follow our essential guide to those disco dos and don’ts.
It’s the sentence everyone dreads. You want to party in the hottest clubs, but unless you’re on their permanent guest lists, first you must dance to clipboard Clara’s tune. Remain polite and respectful. Let her (for it is invariably a granite-faced girl) deal with you in her own time; she’s assessing whether you fit her desired crowd template. Don’t act desperate: I once saw an arrogant Emirates princelet flash £500 at a greeter. She accepted the cash, sardonically adding: ‘Thanks, I’ll share that out among those sleeping rough on the street… which is exactly where you’re staying tonight.’ Rein in the attitude. Even stars such as Cher and Axl Rose – both refused entry at seminal London club Trade – deserve to take the walk of shame should they spit out that pathetic cliché: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’ Pretending you’re someone famous is another guaranteed fail. Greeters also know every hot model in town: on what planet would Select represent short-arse Sharon from PC World? Charlie Gilkes – owner of various Made In Chelsea magnets – concurs: ‘Pretending to be related to Silvio Berlusconi won’t get you into Bunga Bunga.’ Looking the part might though, so…
Avoid any club...
…with Hummers outside: Hertfordshire hen-night hell.
…advertising celebrity PAs. Because you want to hang out with Dean Gaffney, Bianca Gascoigne or the cast of Geordie Shore?
…with ‘Gentlemen’s’ in its title. Nice chaps don’t dig cheap chicks on poles.
…handing out flyers ‘Free entry to all ladies’ or ‘half-price party pitchers’ screams ‘Magaluf‘.
…with horror queues. Where everyone looks like auditionees for Paddy McGuiness’ Take Me Out.
Know your target’s dress code. If you’re unsure, check out Thea Lewis-Yates’ passe-partout tips. Spray tans and Louboutins might make it into Movida (pictured, right), but they’ll be shunned at edgy sweatboxes such as Vogue Fabrics. Conversely, although they may be de rigueur in Dalston, puce polka-dot make-up teamed with a tartan tutu over a Tigger onesie will not get onesie into Boujis, unless onesie is the future Queen of England in fancy dress. Ditch City suits. Anyone dressed as if they’re going for an interview at Coutts would be cuckoo to try to crash The Cuckoo Club. At legendary New Romantic club Blitz, such style faux pas were met with the most brutal of put-downs. Iconic host Steve Strange would hold a mirror up to those he deemed unworthy, asking: ‘Well, would you let yourself in looking like that?’ And unless you’re off to Tiger Tiger, avoid dressing like Cheryl Cole. Which reminds me…
Dress to impress
If you don’t have the innate fashion savvy of Alexa Chung or Daniel Craig, stick to these get-it-right rules from super-stylist Thea Lewis-Yates, whose work features in Vogue and whose clients include Selfridges and Harrods.
For him: a dark shirt (‘navy out-chics black’) and slim-cut jeans (‘never skinny, gangsta-low or distressed’) worn with classic brogues and a tailored jacket always works. These do not: shiny suits (‘too Graham Norton’); cowboy boots (‘unless you’re the real McCoy from Montana’); sunglasses after dark (‘Joey Essex poseur’); deep V-neck T-shirts (‘Simon Cowell he-vage makes me heave’); ironic slogan t-shirts (‘“enjoy Coke” in Coca-Cola’s typeface is about as rock ’n’ roll as Alan Partridge’).
For her: rock a fab frock by Mary Katrantzou, Peter Pilotto, or Prabal Gurung. Follow my ‘one statement’ rule: statement make-up needs a simple dress. Statement shoes? Go clean and modern with the rest of your look. Unless you want to look like an oven-ready turkey, avoid ‘festive’ metallic dresses; sparkly ultra-platform stripper/whore shoes; and anything Tulisa might wear.
Having negotiated the velvet rope, you’ll want to head for the loos to check out your look in the mirror. No matter how annoying they are, abusing loo attendants – young Cheryl Tweedy style – is an absolute no-no. Take the ruddy lollipop and tip them well. How would you like to spend eight hours spritzing all and sundry with Kim Kardashian’s latest pong, all for peanuts? Not that you would, but remember, lavatory cubicles should only be used for their intended purpose. That other thing is illegal… and ugly. Who wants a nose like Danniella Westbrook or Tara P-T? Get high on the music, for…
Indeed it is. Classic disco is back, big time. Study YouTube clips of Soul Train, the 1970s American TV show. Its dancers’ funky moves are timeless and cool. Shaking it like Beyoncé – when you have as much beat in your bouncy big booty as Ann Widdecombe on Strictly – will instantly draw a crowd… for all the wrong reasons. Dancing on the banquettes is tacky. Yes YOU, Paris Hilton! Body-popping on tables? This is Shoreditch House, not the Big Brother house. Remember, also, that…
Don’t get it Pete Tong: begging Fatboy Slim to spin ‘Ra-Ra-Rasputin’ is like asking Jamie Oliver to rustle up Turkey Twizzlers. You’re at Fabric (pictured, left), not a work’s do in a Woking wine bar. If, however, tonight’s ‘DJ’ is the spawn of famous parentage (viz Peaches Geldof, Daisy Lowe et al) or a TV turnip, leave immediately – no self-respecting club monkey should be seen dead in any pit that employs them. Avoid requests unless your taste is unimpeachable and the track fits the DJ’s set. Anyone requesting Rick Astley at a Haggerston hip-hop night deserves to be Run (DMC) out of town, as, according to electronica legend Rusty Egan, does ‘any idiot asking me to look for a track they heard on Spotify’. And don’t even think of offering him a magnum of Moët if he’ll play Olly Murs. Which brings us to…
Keep it simple. Queuing three deep while a harassed bartender wrestles with labour-intensive cocktails is beyond irritating. If you make it to the VIP area, don’t take pics on your phone of you doing Jägerbombs with some girl group who came fourth on X Factor when it was still in any way relevant. Racking up big bar bills is ridiculous: ordering £500-a-bottle fizz or a top Cognac when you can’t tell them from Lambrini and Aftershock is for lame LA rappers and flash traders – like the bloke who tried to impress Benicio del Toro by dropping £40K on booze at Raffles recently.
10 London clubs to suit all tastes
THE BOX: not half as decadent as it imagines, but still occasionally wild
DALSTON SUPERSTORE: messy, mad, metrosexy
DSTRKT: 50 Cent hosted this VIP lounge’s 1st birthday party last December
FABRIC: electric, eclectic, electronica, essential
FIRE: go shirtless and gay in a big, big way
JALOUSE: gaggles of glitzy, glam girlies
MADAME JOJO’S: something for everyone, from soul boys to drag queens
MAGGIE’S: Chelsea circa 1984 revisited. Go, Caroline, go!
XOYO: (pictured, top right): top-notch promoters pull in a cool, varied list of live music
This feature was published in the 2013 edition of Square Meal Restaurants & Bars guide.